Posted by: Integra Massage | June 11, 2011

The Passive Back Release

The Passive Back Release Exercise

This exercise releases tension from your back and helps you spine lengthen by simply lying and resting in the position in which your spine will natural fall into proper alignment without effort.  Seems too good to be true but this exercise is a wonderful example of how “not doing” can be more beneficial than doing.  It is a fundamental part of the Alexander Technique and also incorporates principles from Tai Chi.

The passive back release is a great resting  and restoring position for your whole body.  Do it whenever your feel stressed or the body is sore and tight.  I recommend it to almost all my clients, particularly those with back pain, neck pain or shoulder pain.  If you do it 15 minutes a day for three months you will most likely see a radical improvement in your posture and physical well being.

First the video, followed by detailed instructions:


Remember the golden rules of therapeutic exercise:

1. Follow the instructions  and watch the video for the exercise carefully before you do the exercise.
2. move slowly and smoothly
3. pay attention to how your body feels and stay with your comfort zone. dapt the exercise to your limitations.

You will need:

  • A carpeted draft free space
  • A few paperback books to support you head
  • About 10-20 minutes in which you will not be disturbed by phones, children, pets etc.
  • Optionally a nice soothing play list on your ipod timed to the length of time you intend to stay in the exercise position.

Basic Instructions

1. Lie on your back.  Put enough paperback books under your head so your neck is straight with you head neither tiled back or bent forward.

2. Bend your knees about 90 degree, so your feet rest flat on the ground.  Your knees and feet are shoulder width apart.

3. Let you arms rest by your sides naturally straight and free from tension.

4. Stay in this position for 10-20 minutes while you allow your body to relax and become heavy. Breath naturally throughout and keep your awareness in what your body is feeling.

5. When you are ready to finish, role on to one side and then to a kneeling position before you stand up.  Notice how you feel.

Taking things a bit further:

1.   You can help release your back  further by slowly using your hands to draw each knee in turn up to your chest.

2. To further release your neck, use your hands to slowly and gently lift your head and then put it back down.

3.  If you want to help your shoulders release.  Slowly raise each arm in turn up towards to ceiling to the point where you feel your shoulder blade lift up.  then settle the shoulder back down and lower the arm.

If you have enjoyed or benefited from this exercise do let me know via comments and share it with any else who might benefit.

The passive back release is the main position used for Focused Active Relaxation and forms an integral part of my practice of massage in Newcastle and other clinics where I work.



  1. I enjoyed watching the movie I can’t wait to put some of these new streches into action! I think they will help me with some of my pain!

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